Australian illustrator and comic book cover artist Conny Valentina has a few words to say about the practice of commissions for artists – both for the artists and the people who commission the work. She writes,
I have so many people who email me asking how to be a better artist. What materials do I use, what are my references and who inspires me. It is all relevant. But no one ever asks how to be a professional artist, how to actually make a living off of it in the right way.
I often chuckle at the fact that artists tend to be handed a get-out-of-jail-free card for poor service. "Oh well he IS an artist after all" seems to be the catch phrase that can then somehow be atonement for bad form. But art, just like any job, is just that, a job. First and foremost it needs to be treated like a proper job and not like something that you are entitled to.
So that means you set aside specific amount of hours you work each day. Decide which day will be your weekend, but there is a proper routine that must be adhered to. So when you have a deadline, the idea of going out and being with friends because it isn't fair that they are out while I am not, is a rather childish mentality. You have your set hours, stick to them.
You take money for a commission? You do the commission at the agreed upon deadline. NO EXCUSES. I can't stress this enough. Don't take the money unless you know you can fulfil that job at the agreed upon time frame. So many will again use the excuse of "well other more pressing work came up and I had to put the first job to the side" . Well, you are definitely entitled to do that, but that also means that the money is returned to the client until you are ready to resume (unless of course the client is cool with it after you have TOLD THEM that it needs to be put on hold.
Anything else is stealing. Pure and simple.
Once art is done, POST IT! (post in Australia means to mail it out)
How hard is that? The art has been paid for, you most likely have a spouse or a parent or a friend that can do that for you if you are somehow not able to. Don't use the excuse that you just don't have the time to post if for weeks and months at a time. It is beyond negligent. And again, if you can't post it, then you may as well not have done it and again the client deserves that money back or it is stealing.
No one owes you anything. No one. You are an artist. You aren't saving lives, you aren't Mother Teresa, you aren't feeding the poor…..you are an artist, just like my friend is an accountant and others are plumbers and librarians. We all have our jobs we have chosen in life, and we all have to do them properly or there are repercussions.
Now on the flip side, to the clients out there, there are rules you need to adhere to as well. Don't belittle the artist by bartering with them, undercutting their quotes, not paying once commission is done. This is a two way street. If you did your job at wherever you work, and your boss suddenly said you are only getting half of your salary as I felt that is all you deserved, well I am sure you would be kicking up a right stink, and you would have every right to. Just like the artist does.
This is a job just like any other. Treat it as such.